Starbucks Corp. is aiming to eliminate pay disparities based on gender and race, a move that it says will level the field for employees across the globe.
The coffee giant said Wednesday it would achieve and maintain 100 percent equal pay for all its employees, known as partners, who perform similar work in company-operated markets. It didn’t give a timeline for the goal, which includes countries such as the U.K., France, Canada, Japan and China. Starbucks has already done this domestically, it said.
“It is important, as a company of our scale, to help bring more attention to this critical issue,” said Lucy Helm, Starbucks’ chief partner officer. “It is incumbent upon us to do more.”
Starbucks, which is holding its annual meeting Wednesday, has been on a quest to improve the lives of its workers. In January, it expanded parental leave to give non-birth parents up to six weeks paid time off. It also announced paid sick days for the first time, and wage raises after a U.S. corporate tax cut.
But the company has struggled to keep another set of stakeholders happy: its investors. Shares have tumbled from their peak last summer, hurt by lackluster results. In the latest quarter, Starbucks said weak afternoon sales hurt its U.S. business.
Starbucks began a companywide wage study a decade ago, and now statistically analyzes raises and bonuses to make sure they are equitable. It also doesn’t ask potential hires for compensation history to avoid bringing in past pay inequities.
Also on Wednesday, the company reiterated its target to increase earnings, excluding some items, by at least 12 percent annually over the next three years. It confirmed its goal to return $15 billion to shareholders during the same period.
To help sales, Starbucks said it’s focused on expanding its premium Reserve brand with new Princi stores and Roastery locations. It pointed to a new marketing push to build “digital relationships” with its more than 60 million monthly customers who aren’t rewards members. It already is opening up mobile order and pay to those who aren’t in its loyalty program this month.
“We see too many examples of businesses choosing between an experience that solely focuses on convenience or one that simply highlights community,” Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson said. “But we don’t believe there needs to be this type of a tradeoff.”